Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.
“God’s Grace is Moving On”
Have you ever compared yourself with your siblings to see who you think is the most loved by your parents? Some of you may have forgotten even though you have done so, but some still remember how that felt. I am sure it was not a good feeling. When we compare with others, we mostly feel down.
When I was a teenager and in my twenties, I often heard my younger sisters complain to my parents, “why do you do favor more for my sister than me?” I did not know why my sister used to complain to my parents at that time. Even I did not feel that I was my parents’ favorite child. After our family members converted to Christianity, she used to say to me, “I was jealous of you. You are the most beloved one by God.” She used to follow what I was doing. I realized that she wanted to confirm that she was loved. One day I invited her to pray together and shared with her about God’s love. And then she confirmed through our sharing and prayers that she is a unique child to God. It is essential knowing we are loved. We are very special to our parents and God. God’s love is one- on- one love for everyone.
Jesus’ disciples also used to compare among themselves. James and John wanted to be Jesus’ favorite disciples to be seated at his right and left in his kingdom (Matthew 20:21). The disciple John describes himself as “the disciple whom he loved” in the Gospel of John. Some scholars say that John was Jesus’ favorite disciple. But, I say, we all could be Jesus’ favorite disciples because we are unique and special to God. The disciple John, who used to describe by himself, “the disciple whom he loved,” at the end of the Gospel of John, wrote about the disciple Peter’s curiosity about comparing with others. When Jesus talked about Peter’s destiny, Peter asked Jesus, “how about him
(John)?” But, Jesus said to him, whatever I do for him, “What is that to you? follow me.” (John 21:21-22). Like that, whatever God does for others, what is that for you? You need to follow Jesus.
What is important is that God’s love is open to everyone, and what is more essential is to know that you are loved. And then, you may experience that God’s grace is moving on to you. In today’s scripture, we read Jesus’s other parable story. It appears to be about a wedding
banquet. But please pay attention. It talks about the kingdom of heaven, not merely about a wedding banquet. Interestingly, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.
Through the king’s invitation, we may notice who shall go to heaven. At first, the king invites special people to his son’s wedding banquet. You may guess who they are. If you have your children’s wedding, whom would you invite? Perhaps, they would be very close family members, relatives, and very close friends. Especially during this pandemic season.
In the scripture, the king perhaps invited many close people. But, the people who received the king’s invitation “made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.” (22:5-6). Do you think that they went away because they were busy with their business? No, it matters what relationship they had with the king. Think about it. Even though you are busy, if your close friend invites you, you go there, putting your busy business aside. They thought that the king is out of their interest. In other words, the king loved them so much, but they did not love the king. It is a parable of the Jewish. The good news came to the Jewish first, but they rejected, even they
killed many prophets and God’s only Son Jesus as well. Therefore, the good news is open to a gentile, which is out of the Jewish.
The king invites others to fill the wedding banquet hall. All are invited whether they are good or bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests (22:10). That’s why we sometimes feel “the thing is not fair.” God’s love is open for everyone. God makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). You may think that it is not fair that all are invited to heaven, whether they are bad or good. If it is so, you may raise a question of why we would be Christians. Did you ever hear about the God of justice and the God of righteousness? Psalms 119:137 says, “You are righteous, O Lord, and your judgments are right.”
God is righteous, but God himself is love. The First Letter of John says, “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them” (1John 4:16b). Therefore, God takes care of all people, and he invites all to his kin(g)dom, whether the
good or the bad. However, do not feel unfair about God’s invitation because the reason God takes care of all, including the good or the bad, is that God loves you so much. Again, the reason is that God’s grace is moving on to you. Who knows because God waits for you? If God invites only the good, are you sure you are invited? Jesus says in the parable of weeds among the wheat, “for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest: and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matthew 13:29).
In today’s scripture, we find that the king comes in to see the guests. When he found a man who was not wearing a wedding robe, the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him into the outer darkness”(Matthew 22:11-13). You may feel that he did too much to the man who was not wearing a wedding robe. It is a parable of Christlikeness. At that time, the host gave everyone the wedding robe as God’s grace is free. Everyone received a wedding robe when they entered into the wedding banquet as God’s grace is for everyone. But, the man was not wearing the wedding robe because he ignored the wedding’s policy, and then he spoiled the wedding banquet. Finally, he was kicked out of the banquet. Sometimes we make light of God’s grace such as how we breathe every day; we have shelter; we have daily food; we have a faith community; we have family; and we are loved.
Sometimes we ignore the community’s rules because we think that they are not necessary. But, the small rule is somehow related to our life. Think about the first human beings, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden. They made light of God’s commandment. God said, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Genesis 2:16-17). However, perhaps they thought it may be okay if they just tasted it a little bit. Finally, Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Eden. What about wearing a mask and keeping social distancing? If we think that these are not important and ignore our agreements, we may lose our health. Furthermore, we may lose our lives.
As it is essential to keep the community’s rule, Christians should keep God’s commandments. What does God want from us? Micah says, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love with kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). Remember, God wants us to live out doing justice and loving humbly in everyday life. The Apostle Paul says, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desire” (Romans 13:14). It is essential to be ready all the times wearing Christlikeness because God’s grace is moving on to us. Remember that Jesus said, “For many are called, but few are chosen” (22:14). You are the chosen person to be Jesus’ disciples, who love God and love your neighbors. As God loves you, you shall love others.
I hope that you know you are loved. Do not compare it to God’s love. God’s love toward you could not be compared with anything else because you are special to God. If you believe this, you may experience God’s grace moving on to you. You may experience that God makes his face shine upon you and be gracious to you (Number 6:25). Thanks be to God. Amen!